The Confidence Gap. What is it and can it be reduced?

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Sevda GurpinarExperienced marketing and advertising professional

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According to many studies, men and women begin their careers equally confident about reaching the top, but over time women’s confidence declines. Even though we have made huge progress in gender equality in the past decade, at the very top women are still nearly absent.

But why is this so when the business case for diversity is clear to see? A recent McKinsey study found companies with 10% higher gender and racial diversity in their management teams have a 6% higher profit. I personally believe that the more diverse the workforce, the more likely you are to succeed as a company. The company with the most flexibility in its thinking and behaviour will have the greatest influence on its customers.

Women, when our competence in the workplace has never been more obvious, why is it that a lack of confidence is holding us back? For all of you reading this and nodding your heads, it is important to remember that confidence can be built – we CAN make a positive shift towards reducing the confidence gap. Cindy Gallop (Founder & CEO of IfWeRanTheWorld) believes that we all need to “microact”. Real change happens from the bottom up, not from top down, so every single person needs to take microactions everyday to affect change.

Here are a few of my tips on how to influence change at an individual level:

1) Act assertively:

Fake it until you make it! If you pretend you are confident, with practice you will become confident. People that need to be 99% sure to speak out won’t speak out at all. Yet others will have more confidence in you when you put a stake in the ground, even if you do make mistakes along the way. So just go for it! My coach, Nikki Watkins, says that “everyone has extraordinary in them, you just have to get out of the way of yourself”. This could not be more true of many of the highly competent but not as equally confident women I come across in the workplace.

2) Embrace the spotlight:

Just because it doesn’t feel natural don’t let the extrovert in the team take all the glory. Do not let your contributions be sidelined because of stage fright. I once heard someone say that “women who don’t self-promote are letting us all down”. Generally men do not have a problem doing this. If the thought of this makes you nervous I would encourage you to watch the TED talk by social psychologist Amy Cuddy (https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?language=en) where she suggests a little trick before a meeting to help increase confidence. She suggests doing the “Wonder Woman” or the “Runner crossing the finish line” pose in front of a mirror. Both release testosterone and reduce cortisol which will make you feel calmer and more confident.

3) Call it out:

If you are naturally confident and can see that there are members of the team that are not – then help these colleagues speak up. Encourage them and acknowledge their opinions. Don’t talk over people or repeat what they have said. And most importantly if you witness these sort of behaviours be bold and call them out.

If every individual, introvert or extrovert, male or female, becomes more mindful of their own actions and adopts new habits, collectively we can diminish the confidence gap.


Behind Every Woman…

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Kalpana TatavartiPartner at Interweave Consulting Pvt Ltd

The key challenge to retaining and developing the female talent pipeline for organizations or engaging women in the global economic activity, has been of women dropping off or slow pedaling their careers.

Many times it is attributed to women not being aspirational or ambitious enough.

I believe that is not at all the case.

Women do aspire, but the pull against their aspirations is their gender identity, ‘The Good Woman’ template, which is defined by society and internalized by women themselves.

In the groups that I run, often there are obvious reflections of this template:

“I love my work and have been promoted twice in the last four years. Recently I have had a baby who is now a year old. Though my current role is exciting and demanding I feel guilty I’m not available for my child”

“I am not sure I want to be earning more than my husband or be in a higher position than him”

“My Manager asked me why are you considering that tough role… when my husband earns so much, just take it easy!”

“One of my colleagues was saying how he dislikes ‘all those ambitious’ women’… what does that mean? Is it a crime?”

“I see successful women leaders as very brusque and too direct, and that doesn’t seem very womanly to me.”

“My mother in law thinks I am very selfish to focus on my career so much.”

“If I take the next role, I will have to compromise my family and their needs.”

“My husband says I can work so long as it doesn’t affect our family life or children”

“My mother doesn’t understand why I travel so much or work so hard. Stay at home and relax.”

Gender is the deepest part of our identity which defines how a woman ‘should be’; it is a template that society defines on what it is to be a ‘good woman’.

  • A Good Woman is not Ambitious
  • A Good Woman will Adjust and Compromise
  • A Good woman is supportive of others (not herself)
  • A Good woman puts her family’s needs before hers
  • A Good woman has to be a perfect mother

Etc etc etc…

Women internalize this template, which impacts their everyday behaviors & decisions: to stay in the workplaces or leave; to engage with their careers or lean back; to claim their spaces (both in their professional or personal lives) or play second/third/fourth fiddle. More often than not, this acts as an Internal Glass Ceiling that holds women back from releasing their potential and achieving their aspirations.

If women have to stay, sustain & grow in their careers or engage in the global economic activity, they have to challenge & redefine this template for themselves first.

Needless to say, women who have achieved beyond their homes, (and many have!) have all reinvented this template.

And they are surrounded by people who have reinvented the template too… husbands, mothers, friends, mothers- in-law(!!), managers, organizations.

“I have developed a mechanism through which I just tune out the messages from the environment that don’t support my career aspirations.”

“I have shared my career aspirations with my husband and he agrees that balancing work and family commitments is both our responsibility, not just mine.”

“I work because it is important to me, and I make it a point to convey to my manager that I am ambitious. But certain stages in my life need her/his support, just like anyone else irrespective of gender. But that in no way reduces my commitment to my work.”

“My mother is supportive of my career choices, and helps out in many ways so that I don’t get worked up. She has worked before.”

For, Behind Every Woman….

….is the woman herself, who changes what it means to be a ‘good woman.’

For, Behind Every Woman….

….are all the significant people and systems in her life who have changed what it means to be a ‘good woman’

How many ways have you changed the template for yourself?

How many ways have you changed the template for the women in your life?

Join the ‘Behind Every Woman’ Campaign! Click here to share your stories of changing the template.

Kalpana Tatavarti is a diversity & inclusion professional. To read more of her writing visit her blog, woMan work life, at http://www.womanworklife.in/

Four traits you’ll find in successful women

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Keeran Gunnooby , Global Employer Brand Director

The truth is unavoidable. Everywhere in the business world, women are hugely unrepresented at the top. Only 4% of CEO positions with Fortune 500 companies, and fewer than one in five corporate board seats, are currently held by women. And while things are slowly loosening up – notably with the steady increase of female MBA students – there’s still have a long way to go.

But against this background there are some stellar exceptions – women who have set their own direction and succeeded largely on their own terms. Inevitably, their success raises the question of what sets them apart from their peers. I’ve narrowed it down to four key elements.

Self confidence

Though findings by Goldman Sachs and Columbia University have found companies employing women in large numbers tend to outperform their competitors, many of these competent women still feel undeserving of a promotion, underestimate their performance, or fear asking for a raise. Call it assertiveness, courage or keeping cool under pressure – fostering real self-confidence can push you further and faster in the workplace. Developing assertiveness, managing anxiety and supporting your colleagues can win you respect, self- assurance – and even that promotion.


It’s become something of a truism to suggest that empathy in the workplace is the natural inclination of women. There is a way to make that work in your favour, though, with a softer management style that focuses as much on the person as the performance. Management with empathy doesn’t mean that you’re a pushover or favour a culture of under-achievement. On the contrary, a little personal understanding earns a huge payback in terms of loyalty, since employees are far more likely to go that extra mile for a popular and inspiring leader.


We’ve all come across the superwoman effect – high-achievers who juggle home and family commitments, as well as a demanding career schedule. Learning to successfully balance several areas of your life is key for those who want to “have it all.” There are also ways you can use your workplace to your advantage: flexible working arrangements, childcare vouchers and job-sharing can all help you feel like Superwoman – minus the mask and cape.

Managing stress

Stress can burn out the most ironclad constitution and crumble the steeliest resolve. Anyone can feel stressed if they don’t have a support network. The impact is multiplied if you feel isolated, so things like mentoring, balancing your schedule and taking regular breaks can make a huge difference. And never be afraid to ask for more workplace support – because no one makes it alone.

Empowering women to achieve success, and thereby creating an equal environment for employees, is one of the most effective tools for accelerating global development. That’s why in 2014, Unilever strengthened their Enhancing Livelihoods ambitions of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, by creating a new pillar on ‘Opportunities for Women’, with a focus on their economic empowerment based on rights, skills and opportunities. Unilever’s ambition is to empower 5 million women by 2020, and you could be one of them.

Feminine Leadership isn’t Just about Women.

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amel murphy MSc, MCIPDBy  Leadership Consultant, Diversity &Inclusion Partner and Business Mentor

For years now, the topic of gender diversity makes headlines. Researches were conducted to demonstrate the business case for more females in the workplace, however little progress has been done to address it at its roots.

Women in leadership positions are becoming an emerging trend in many countries and organizations, yet female leaders are continuously having to embrace masculine traits if they want to progress in the organization.

For 10+ years, I have read books, reports, findings and research on the topic of leadership and women in leadership in particular. When examining the findings, I couldn’t help asking myself, what is so different between the gender and what are we looking for to leverage on? as I failed to see the difference in the workplace even though we had more female leaders at the top.

I couldn’t understand why organisations wanted more female at the top, when those female looked and acted no different to their male counterparts. Why make the fuss about something that creates no value.

When looking carefully at the research, specially the one published by Mc Kinsey’s since 2007 entitled “Women Matter”, my quest on leadership was no longer driven by gender equality, however it was more about the traits/qualities that gender diversity served. It was more about the leverage of both feminine & masculine qualities as a business case for innovation.

With this in mind, my question shifted slightly to not only how can we increase the presence of women at board level but more about, Why is feminine leadership important for organizations? How can we bring more feminine leadership to our organizations?  Why gender diversity is key to business innovation?

According to the third annual Ketchum Leadership Communication Monitor published last year, it’s top-level female leaders who are best at getting their message across.

More than 6,500 responses from individuals around the world provided perceptions of leaders in business, community, politics, non-profit, and union or organised labour organisations.

In five out of seven metrics of effective leadership, female leaders out-did their male counterparts.  The survey identifies ‘feminine’ leadership communication as the way of the future and suggests the end of the ‘macho’ style in senior ranks.

In the top four metrics – “leading by example”, “communicating in an open and transparent way”, “admitting mistakes” and “bringing out the best in others” – more than half of the respondents felt that women leaders performed better than men.

According to the Ketchum survey, Female leaders offer transparency, collaboration, genuine dialogue, clear values and the alignment of words and deeds, which are cherished by employees and stakeholders.

Feminine leadership isn’t a male vs. female issue, as men are capable of accessing those traits as much as women do, however culturally and biologically, women have the tendency to embody them more.

In 2013, The Athena Doctrine: How Women and the Men Who Think Like Them Will Rule the Future book asserted that “feminine values could be the answer to many of humanity’s & corporation challenges.

Based on a worldwide piece of research with 64,000 people. The study highlighted a growing dissatisfaction with what many perceived to be masculine values and traits dominating global business and politics.

Also business culture favors the masculine perspective, not because of an intention to marginalize women, but because men designed it. As a result, we recognize and reward masculine leadership. Women sometimes report to be left out from promotion just because they don’t fit the traditional leadership model of the organisation.

Women are able to succeed in a “man’s world,” but it can come at a high psychological and physiological cost.  Many women find that in the process of fulfilling personal and professional expectations, they have only partially developed their capacities despite significant external achievements.

Many women leaders make the decision to leave the organisation rat race and start their own businesses, as they are no longer willing or keen to fit in to a model/system that doesn’t appreciate or value difference.  Those women who do pursue the leadership track face significant unconscious bias.

So what is the answer?

According to Janet Crawford, “there isn’t only one answer but these four are essential”:

  • Raise awareness of unconscious bias. Until biases are made visible and we find creative ways to neutralize them, unconscious bias will trump conscious values, resulting in well-meaning people inadvertently perpetuating the status quo. We should have programs in place to address it.
  • Be a daily observer of how you are reacting to others, and how others are reacting to you and be willing t0 and Question your points of reference and challenge your own beliefs and assumptions.
  • Involve men as gender inequity isn’t a special cause or a women issue but it affects all of us, it affects economies, organizations and families so we need the involvement and the participation of the system stakeholders to combat it.
  • Create workplace culture that promotes integrated leadership style where both the feminine and masculine attributes, strengths are leverage, appreciated and rewarded.

Ladies… When Are You Going to Say YES to Everything YOU Desire and Dream Of?

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Catrice M. Jackson The BOSSLady of Branding

Ladies... When Are You Going to Say YES to Everything YOU Desire and Dream Of?

Everything you want, wish for, hope for, dream of and want is on the other side of fear and the only way to cross over is to say YES and leap over the fear threshold with confidence, conviction and courage!

There has to come a time when YOU stop hoping, waiting, delaying, and waiting on permission from anyone outside of yourself. You don’t have to wait for the green light, turn on YOUR green light and go! 

Maybe it’s time listen to the voice inside that’s begging you to do something different and more rewarding. Maybe it’s time to say yes to the inner knowing that you are here to do something more meaningful. Maybe it’s time for you to stop sitting on your genius idea and turn it into income. Maybe it’s time to finally put YOU and what you want first.

“I know there is something inside of you that’s calling you to be more, do more and have more — and not because everyone else is doing it or has it — but because deep down inside you deserve it. — And YOU DO!”

What is that for you? A different more fulfilling job? The ability to travel whenever you want to? Additional money to fund your dreams? To finally start that business you’ve been dreaming of? Or how about moving up in the company you love? Whatever it is for you… NOW is the time to say yes to it! 

There is nothing wrong with wanting more and wanting more out of life. If your life was over at the end of today… have you lived your purpose? Have you loved deeply? Have you shown up authentic and unapologetically? Have you taken risks? Will you leave this earth regret free? — OR do you still have dreams and desires unfulfilled? 


Don’t wait for the “perfect” moment… take the moments and make them perfect for you! If you’re waiting on approval it may never come. If you’re waiting on permission, it may never be granted. If you’re waiting on life to settle down, for the kids to leave the nest or for your life to be lined up perfectly, those days may never come. So why not seize THIS MOMENT? — It’s really all you have right! 

Imagine what will happen when you are surrounded by powerhouse women who want what you want.– Women who have already said YES and ooze with “I’m going to live my life my way energy.”

“When you have dreams — you’ve got to put yourself in a space with people who crave more, who are hungry for success, those who are optimistic and hurdling over obstacles, vibrant souls, big thinkers, visionaries and action takers!”


Once you say YES, desires, dreams and destiny begins to take flight! Things start to fall in place. Connections show up. Doors open. Ideas flow. The resources come. And the energy of your unwavering YES sets off a domino effect to help bring your dreams and desires to life. —But you’ve gotta say YES and mean it with every fiber of your being! 

It’s not too late… As long as you have breath in your body there’s an opportunity to be who you want, do what you want, have what you want and go where you want.

is an International Speaker & Best Selling Author | Consciousness Catalyst & Consultant | Message Mentor & Copywriter

This 12-Year-Old Girl Has an IQ Higher Than Stephen Hawking

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This 12-Year-Old Girl Has an IQ Higher Than Stephen Hawking

Lydia Sebastian is a 12-year-old girl from Colchester County High School in Essex. She started talking at six months; she could play the violin at four; she’s read all seven Harry Potter books in the series three times. And just in case all that isn’t enough, Lydia achieved the highest possible score—162 —on her Mensa IQ test. That’s higher than celebrated physicists Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein, who scored 160. Oh hey, there, Smart Girl! Look at you being smarter than some of the smartest men in history!

So, wait. How did this happen? 

After nagging her parents and searching online for the perfect IQ test to sink her teeth into, Lydia took one at Mensa during the school holidays (right, because she’s still in school). The Guardian reported that she was “nervous at first, but once I started it was much easier than I expected it to be and then I relaxed.” The paper challenged her language skills, including analogies, and her sense of logic. Lydia finished with minutes to spare.

Now, Lydia proudly joins fellow primary-schoolers Nicole Barr, a 12-year-old from Harlow, Essex, and Aahil Jouher, a 10-year-old from Blackburn, who also aced the Mensa test this year. Um, does anyone else notice that girls are kicking-ass right now?!

If you’re not familiar with Mensa, it’s the oldest high-IQ society in the world. Membership is open to anyone who has achieved a score within the upper 2% of the general population. They have members in over 100 countries around the world, and get this: the youngest member of Mensa is only 4 years old.

Smarties, I’ll say this loud and clear. These two girls (and one boy) are making incredible strides using intelligence, creativity, and determination to engage in challenging activities that stimulate and excite them. This is really what life is about; at any age you can do what you love, push yourself, learn new skills. And most importantly, have fun while you’re at it!

Originally posted on: http://amysmartgirls.com

Girl Up: Stand Up. Speak Up. Rise Up

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By Sarah Cannata

What if every girl, regardless of where they were born, had the same exact opportunities to thrive?

When I stumbled across the alarming statistics on Girl Up’s website that you’re about to read, they hit me hard.

The second most common cause of death for girls between the ages of 15-19 is complications from pregnancy and childbirth.

· Girls between the ages of 10-14 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than women aged 20-24.

· 75 per cent of HIV-infected youth between the ages of 15-24 are girls.

· 50 per cent of all sexual assaults worldwide are against girls 15 or younger.

· One in seven girls in developing countries is married before the age of 15 (excluding China).

Hard to digest, right?

Sadly, like too many people out there, I only stumbled across these figures by accident. Earlier this year, I got in touch with Sharon Herzog, a global advocate for women and girls and the founder of Luxe Media, Inc. and she led me on a search that surprised (and not in a good way) me in so many ways.

It’s stats like the ones listed here that make Girl Up, the United Nations Foundation’s adolescent girl campaign, so important. Later this year, the campaign will be celebrating its fifth anniversary and the wins to date are nothing short of remarkable in a relatively short timeframe.

Now consisting of nearly half a million passionate advocates, the Girl Up community continues to go from strength-to-strength having also just registered its 1,000th Girl Up club. To say this is a huge milestone is an understatement for a campaign that originally began for American girls but has quickly become a borderless movement with clubs now in 66 countries.

Often, we’re so overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation we’re facing, we choose to turn a blind eye to it because maybe, it’s too hard to think about how some people are really living. It’s too hard to think about…

The 13-year-old girl who’s married to a man in his forties because her family is so poor.

The woman who fears reporting a rape because her family will be ashamed.

The young girl denied an education.

Reality is, every one of us has the potential to make a difference.

The choice we all have is whether we’re going to turn a blind eye to what’s happening all around us, or whether we’re going to help empower one another to change the world.

However you twist and turn the following words over in your mind, fact is, they represent the truth.

Girls are powerful. Females who are educated, healthy, safe and counted have the ability to transform their communities.

The recent Girl Up Leadership Summit held in mid-July proved this to be true in the most triumphant of ways. This forum allowed girls to gain the confidence to seize the moment, to learn the skills that make voices heard and gave these girls the opportunity to take their message to members of US Congress. These girls embodied the summit’s theme: Stand Up. Speak Up. Rise Up.

According to Melissa Hillebrenner, Girl Up’s Director, the summit was easily the most successful yet.

“The feedback has been nothing short of incredible! This year’s Girl Up Leadership Summit was the best yet, in terms of speakers and workshop presenters, Lobby Day impact, and the exceptional participants,” she says.

With more than 225 participants from 29 states and 11 countries, every girl left the summit driven to make a difference on a wider scale.

Speaking of making a difference, First Lady Michelle Obama headlined the summit and delivered a speech to remember. A speech in which she put us all in the shoes of the 62 million girls who can’t go to school: “Think about what it would be like to see your brothers going off to school every day while you were stuck at home.”

So, are you ready to step-up and make a real difference to another girl’s life? Wherever you are there are a number of ways you can get involved.

Hosting fundraisers to spread the word, joining the Girl Up community as a supporter, starting a Girl Up Club of your own… the ball is in your court. A great place to start is the Take Action page on Girl Up’s official website.

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